Hands on with Assetto Corsa Competizione at Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports Training Room at MK-7
I recently took a trip to Milton keyes to get hands-on with Assetto Corsa Competizione as it arrives on next-gen consoles. Be assured that, as usual, my impressions will be totally my own and an honest reaction to my experience.
Assetto Corsa Competizione is the official GT world challenge video game for those who aren’t aware. It promises extraordinary quality of simulation and takes advantage of unreal engine 4 to ensure photorealistic weather conditions, graphics, and so much more.
These high-quality promises intrigue me the most about the title as it joins next-gen consoles, the PS5 and the Xbox Series X.
Before we dive into my experience, let’s look at the console launch trailer.
It looks great, doesn’t it, but a trailer can sometimes feel like well-presented renders, so what was my experience of the game?
Well, for that, we’ve got to take a trip down to the Red Bull Technology Campus in Milton Keynes, the home of the Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports team and into the specially designed room of MK-7.
This stunning area features three main sections: the training area, the competition area and the chill-out zone.
The training area features six sim set-ups outfitted with f1 esports pro series playseats, fanatec set-ups and 240hz AOC monitors. What’s crazy about this area is each of the set-ups are connected to this huge video wall display which allows each of them to be shown up on the large display.
Each of the sim set-ups in this zone played host to Assetto Corsa Competizione on a mix of PC and Xbox Series X.
As for the other zones, the competition area has another two sim set-ups, and the chill-out zone was just that, fitted with chairs, large tv, a fuzzball table and a buffet for the day.
I had a quick jump on to get familiar with the fanatec set-up, but before I could sink my teeth in, we got an exciting surprise, a chance to go down to the main space of MK-7.
As a formula one fan, I felt like I’d just be invited into the ultimate toybox, as the main space in MK-7 is home to the full fleet of red bull racing f1 cars. It’s a rare experience even to see one of these incredible machines in person, but here we could get up close and personal with each of them.
It felt crazy to be within touching distance of cars driven by the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo, who I love to watch week in and out throughout the sessions. But one car stood out proudly in the centre of the room, The championship-winning car of Max Verstappen, the red bull racing RB16B which was out on track just last year.
After all that excitement, it was time to go back up to the esports room and get stuck into Assetto Corsa Competizione.
I choose to dedicate my time on the sim set-up to timed-laps around Silverstone. It’s a track I’m familiar with driving due to many hours of F1 on my Logitech home set-up. One thing to note is I didn’t record my footage on the day, and the rigs were already configurated for the sim set-ups, so I didn’t dive into the customisation of those.
My first couple of laps were very rough as I got a better feel for the fanatec set-up and sensitivity of the brakes both physically and in-game. Then I was quickly engrossed in my own little world, putting in lap after lap, trying to find the limits both in my trust of the in-game car and how far I could push the limits of the corners.
Graphically it doesn’t disappoint, which makes it, so fun to watch and play; you get such a sense of realism that it blurs the lines between real racing and esports racing. The force feedback was unlike anything I’ve tried before. This could have been due to the higher quality of the fanatec set-up vs my Logitech g920 at home, the game or a combination of both, but one thing for sure, it feels really good. You didn’t feel like you were playing a game, and in those moments when you’re pushing to improve, the most subtle of the feedback given helps you improve your line and approach with each lap.
I put in over 30 laps around the beautiful Silverstone, and I could have easily done more; time was flying checking this one out, but it was time to grab a drink and take a moment to check out others playing, see their approach and what game setup they had chosen to try out.
As Assetto Corsa Competizione features dynamic weather with rain ranging from a drizzle to massive storms, I was interested to see how well it was implemented and if it makes a genuine impact on the challenge of racing. Those who took it on were singing its praises, noting that it could be the best-wet weather gaming experience they have driven in, and visually spectating on, I can only agree. Of course, there are different ways to set up your car for these challenging weather conditions but seeing the fight to keep the vehicle under control showed just how much effort the devs have put into providing a realistic driving experience.
It wasn’t just wet weather being tested by others, but Imola was also being put those its paces, with many choosing this iconic track for their sessions which is another visually stunning recreation.
I’m looking forward to seeing how each of the courses of the world has been brought to life within the game and improving my ‘track knowledge’ with the in-game challenges.
Even though for those that have played Assetto Corsa this game is seen as a little disappointing due to its scaling down to a single racing discipline, it actually really shines in the attention to detail, the inclusion of both night-racing and dynamic weather, plus improvements to the AI.
I loved both my experience of the game and spectating others. Compared with some people playing on PC and others on the Xbox Series X, there isn’t much difference; it still feels engaging and stunning on the console taking advantage of the next-gen capabilities. The one thing I didn’t do on the day was trying out any gamepad racing, so I’ll be looking to try that out at a later date. Still, I think I’ll most likely stick to my Xbox Series X Logitech g920 home sim set-up as I look to get more game time with Assetto Corsa Competizione soon.
Before leaving the Red Bull campus, I got a chance to visit the trophies on show in all their glory too.
It was indeed an incredible experience as a racing fan to see both the cars and get hands-on with such a realistic game. I can’t thank the teams at 505 games and Alfred London enough for this opportunity and look forward to improving my racing skills on Assetto Corsa Competizione now it’s arrived on both PS5 and Xbox Series X in all it’s glory.